Thinking of driving to WDW. What are your thoughts?

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by Nik's Mom, May 24, 2008.

  1. Nik's Mom

    Nik's Mom Karl Pilkington is a genius

    Dec 22, 2001
    We always fly to WDW (we lived in California). We just moved to Kansas (near Kansas City). We are thinking of driving to WDW next summer. We have 2 kids (6 and 9). My thoughts are that we could save some money, and the kids could see some of the country.

    I'm trying to get some idea of how much that type of drive would cost? We have a 2005 Ford minivan and a 2002 Expedition. I'm thinking the minivan would be the better choice. How can I figure out what to budget to get to WDW?

    Also, what are your experiences with a long drive to WDW? The drive would probably be about 18-20 hours.

  2. 4formickey

    4formickey DIS Veteran

    Jun 27, 2004
    we drove last year from chicago. It would have been cheaper for us to fly. I'm factoring in 2 hotel rooms (coming and going)Food, time on the road with 'are we there yet 'and peace of mind. Daddy is flying this year.
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  4. veraletta

    veraletta DIS Veteran

    Apr 25, 2000
    I love driving so we always drive to Florida from Ohio, if you don’t mind driving then you would enjoy the drive, I say go for it, but if you don’t like to drive then I wouldn't do it.
  5. Purrrrfecta

    Purrrrfecta <font color=blue>A little cat named Lorelei. She i

    Apr 1, 2001
    We drive from Kentucky.

    Last year we drove to Columbia, South Carolina, and then we went on down to WDW. it was nice.

    When wew drive straight from Kentucky we usually go all the way down to Valdosta, and then drive to Orlando the next morning so we can get there as early as possible.
  6. eeyorethegreat

    eeyorethegreat DIS Veteran

    Jan 31, 2005
    I use this handy tool from AAA
  7. ceecee

    ceecee DIS Veteran

    Apr 6, 2001
    We drove one time from Ohio to FL and said never again. The drive was too long! Especially with kids, you will have to plan on many stops along the way. Normally it takes us 6 hrs to get to Gatlinburg, but with DD it took 7, many stops along the way. Our Windstar gets 18 mpg so your Ford probably does about the same, the Expedition probably even less, so gas will be pretty costly. Hotel rooms along the way too if you are planning to stop at a few places for site seeing.
  8. sunnyday123

    sunnyday123 <font color=blue>Someone hand me my drool towel<br

    Sep 2, 2007
    I would pick driving over flying any day. I would'nt even really care about the $$ as long as I could afford it. (ie. was independantly wealthy!)
    I calculated and for me ( with no food and hotel rooms apparently ) it would only be $124 more than my flight. It would also take longer, and you run the risk of a flat, break down, etc. And yet, I would still drive!! Good luck with your decision!
  9. Esmerelda

    Esmerelda DVC'r 10/04/Dis Veteran

    Aug 19, 1999
    Wow do I hate to drive long distances but this year we are trying it. This is the first time in 6 years we have driven to Florida. When I priced airline tickets back in late February for early June...for the 4 of was around $1100 total. The gas to drive there will be around $300-$350. I have a Nissan Quest van...we put 2 new tires on it....put new spark plugs and wires and of course have the oil changed regularly. I get pretty good gas mileage on the highway and we will drive striaght thru with only potty breaks and a break for breakfast. I plan for us to leave about 6pm and drop off our dogs first..then just keep driving. That will put us to Disney about 10pm-noon the next day. We don't plan on doing anything strenous that first day...just checking in with the concierge at the WL....and lounging by the pool.

    As I said...I'm not big on driving...but I'm looking at this as an adventure this year. It will be nice to take what we want....bring back items we have purchased rather than shipping them back..and not having to rush to the airport and then just waiting. Our last flight down to Orlando, we left our home at 0500 heading to the airport...we didn't get to our hotel until 1:30pm...for approx 6 more hours...we would have had our own car...and been there all the same.

    I'm willing to try new things...and I must say, I'm looking forward to my outing this year :)

    best of luck to the OP for a safe trip no matter how the travel there...:)
  10. ajh88

    ajh88 DIS Veteran

    Feb 22, 2008
    We are drivers! :thumbsup2 We live in St. Louis and usually drive to Valdosta, GA on day 1 (about 800 miles), so we only have about 3 hours to go on the 2nd day. We leave before dawn - usually about 4 am - so by the time the kids are awake and realize we're on the road, we've put about 250 miles behind us already.

    As a PP said, if you enjoy driving places, I'd say to go for it - you won't know until you try! I am biased because I grew up in rural Kansas - we had to drive an hour to go to "town" for real shopping and 2 1/2 hours to the nearest major airport.

    And money wise, we actually started renting cars for our trips - no wear and tear on our vehicles, better gas mileage, etc. - and we still come out ahead over flying (and renting a car in FL - DH has to have a car!). We can get away with a standard or full-size car (we need our trunk space!) - but it might not be a good deal if you NEED a van or SUV for your family.

    Good luck - have a great trip!

    Edited to add:

    Money-wise, specifically, our RT airfare would be $918 (4 people, RT from St. Louis to Orlando on AirTran @ $99 each way)
    Rental car in FL (assuming we got a $12/day PriceLine car) = $84 (+taxes/fees)
    TOTAL for flying = $1002

    Our driving budget breaks down like this:

    Rental car - $265 (Chevy Impala for 9 days from Avis - unlimited miles)
    Gas - $350 (estimated by AAA)
    Hotels - $120 (down and back - $60/night)
    Food - $100 (down and back) - usually less than this because we bring snacks and drinks for our hotel at WDW and use them as snacks for the trip too
    TOTAL = $835
  11. Local_Girl

    Local_Girl DIS Veteran

    Oct 6, 2002
    We have always driven to WDW from SW Michigan and plan to again this Nov. We took a trip when our 2 were the ages of your kids...and it went just fine.
    Things to consider:

    Do you/spouse like to drive? (My DH loves long road trips--he does all of the driving, which is fine with me :) )

    How do your kids do on other longer trips?

    Will you be staying in Florida long enough to make a long drive worthwhile? (We usually stay for 10+ days)

    Plan to bring along a variety of things for them to do, electronics, DVDs, books, activities, etc. Try to plan potty breaks with gas'll save some stops and time. But, we also find that it's nice to stop at a grassy rest area and let the kids run around for awhile, maybe with a ball or frisbee. We might do this as a picnic lunch stop.

    Remember the drive down will be more exciting, due to the anticipation of going to WDW. The drive home, on the other hand, will be less fun. Perhaps plan a special stop on the way home to make it more interesting...

    Good Luck planning! We really look forward to our road trips to Disney. :)
  12. DVC Sadie

    DVC Sadie <font color=royalblue>Those mashed taters are soun

    Jan 19, 2006
    Believe it or not some of our fondest memories are of our "road trips". There is something special and unique about spending time in the car playing games, singng or just talking.

    For those of you who are planning on driving, have a great time! The memories will last a lifetime.
  13. HugsForEeyore

    HugsForEeyore <font color=coral>Heck with the rides, give me som

    Mar 26, 2000
    I am in a dilemma with driving to Florida from NJ. I own a tiny Honda Civic which gets great gas mileage (like 38 MPG, it's a manual too), but gas is still going to be well over $100 each way, so over $200 round-trip. If I have to get a hotel both ways, that would be about $200 including tax. So figure $400 for the gas/hotel/ plus some more for food. But I can take the Amtrak AutoTrain (where you bring you car with you) in coach for somewhere around $500 total round trip!

    So nowadays, for a solo driver from the northeast, it almost doesn't make sense to drive to FL anymore. :confused3 If I take the train, I avoid like 14 hours of monotonous driving (28 total for both ways), plus wear and tear on the car, for maybe like $100 more than driving! I would gladly pay myself that to avoid the drive! Much safer, can relax and unwind, too!

    So the high cost of gas is making me choose the train more - it's just about a no brainer for a solo person like me (if you like trains, that is :) ).
  14. diz8297

    diz8297 <font color=teal>The only culture she knows is at

    Jun 24, 2006
    We have driven every year since 2002. We go from RI to FL-last year we did it twice because we went to see family for a separate trip!! We love it. Our youngest was almost 4 when we started doing this, and I have to tell ya they are really great overall!! We stop for breakfast and lunch and then we stop for the night. This allows us to go everyyear and frankly, now I prefer it. We can make our own schedule and have our vehicle to use at the World. Good luck and happy planning!!
  15. DVC Sadie

    DVC Sadie <font color=royalblue>Those mashed taters are soun

    Jan 19, 2006
    I love trains, always have, always will! I envy your trip on the train with your family. Have a great time! :wizard:
  16. treeface

    treeface Mouseketeer

    Sep 19, 2004
    We are driving from northern IN at Christmas this year (about 18 hours). We have done this on several occasions (about 2:1 driving:flying) and it isn't that bad. Like PP's, we usually stop on the way down, usually between Macon and Valdosta, then it's a short trip the next day. On the way home, we usually leave WDW before 6am and then just drive straight home and are home around midnight.

    We will have to stop three times for gas each way (I drive a Pontiac G6 that gets 30+ mpg) and usually once in between each fillup for a bathroom and a stretch. Having DS along doesn't alter our number of stops at all, in fact, I could probably pull out the map and give exit numbers for most of our stops (they are almost always at the same places:)

    Whatever you choose, I'm sure it will be what is best for your family and that it will be a wonderful trip.
  17. Nik's Mom

    Nik's Mom Karl Pilkington is a genius

    Dec 22, 2001
    Hi all!
    Thanks for all of the comments. As usual, my Dis friends come through with loads of suggestions and opinions, which is so helpful! We enjoy driving, but our longest road trip was only about 7 hours. The kids do just fine on those trips, as long as we stop for about 30 minutes for lunch and one potty break.

    I'm still trying to decide what is best. I like the thought of the adventure of a road trip!;)
  18. Poohs Pal

    Poohs Pal DIS Veteran<br>Beautiful and smart so she says<br>

    Feb 29, 2000

    We are also driving from Michigan in November. We will be a group with 2 or 3 vehicals. We use walkie talkies among the cars and it makes the trip a lot more fun as we can get seriously goofy. We are leaving Halloween night(5pm) and will be driving back on November 14th. I will have Dson who is in a wheelchair so we will leave thursday and arrive on saturday. We like to give ourselves extra travling time with Dson. He usually travels well but not always.
    If we are travling without dson we will leave at 3am and stop in or around Tifton Ga on the way down. We have also stopped at Perry and Dalton Ga.
    To the OP. When my kids were young(all adults now) we would make fun stops along the way. It took a little longer but made for a more relaxing trip. Susan
  19. Kellydelly

    Kellydelly DIS Veteran

    Aug 25, 2004
    We have driven often from SE Michigan. With four young children (as in toddlers and babies!). I love the drive down, we usually start out at 10 pm or so and drive continously all night, stop for a good breakfast and then continue seeing sights along the way and stop for the night in Valdosta Georgia. We stop every 2 hours or so for bathroom breaks and coffee, it doesn't add that much time to your drive time to stop and let everyone stretch their legs. The drive back does tend to suck, though. No way around it. It's exciting driving knowing you are on your way somewhere fun, but on the way back it seems you will never see your driveway. We love finding cool things to check out on our trips, though (we've done quite a few cavern tours).
  20. StephMK

    StephMK DIS Veteran

    Mar 22, 2004
    We drove from NE to VA last summer without DH and it was a fun adventure. I planned a lot of sightseeing along the way so we didn't go more than 4 hours w/having something to look forward to. The kids were 4, 7, 13 and watched lots of movies in between. It took a little longer that way but we added some states we'd never seen and some new experiences along the way. It goes much better if you don't have a really tight itinerary.

    It's all in the attitude! Have fun!
  21. Poohbug

    Poohbug Sherlocked

    Oct 26, 2006
    I just drove from WDW to Wisconsin. Just me and two kids. It took us 24 hours total including a couple of stops for resting and of course the stops for fuel. We did not stay at a hotel. For me the hotel stops are a pain-you never know which hotel is good and you pay to much(rack rate). It went really well-the kids thought it was an adventure to sleep in the car.;)

    I would drive to WDW again. For me the best way is just to do it all in one shot.

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